so like September 24, 2011
A few shots by Heather from back in June. Looking through her trip pics, man, I just love climbing in Flagstaff. It’s on my list of places to be this spring. Of course, I hate to plan anything post-Hawaii, because I want to reserve the possibility of not coming back from Hawaii. I was talking to dad last night about it, and I was saying, “I always thought that if I were a bird, I’d fly to Hawaii and stay.” And he goes, “Well, now you’re a bird.”
Here’s Flag…Thanks Heather!!!!
heads off July 2, 2011
I can’t remember what initially inspired me to go into the forest alone with a few apples, a sleeping bag, a bottle of water and instructions to my friends to come look for me if I didn’t return in 50 hours. I think it was something I heard on the SoundsTrue podcast. I do a lot of these “personal growth” “spiritual development”-y kind of things. They are my favorite, I love trying to find mental discipline, praying, doing established sequences of yogic stretches, giving myself positive affirmation, lists, journals, books, all that stuff. Not that it’s necessarily helping me be a better, happier person, but I enjoy it, and if I stopped doing it at this point, who knows what would come out, so lets just keep at it ya? Ya. But given how into that stuff I am, I decided to make this project more challenging by doing nothing for the full two days. No yoga, no siting cross legged, no prescription to pray or think about a particular aspect of my life that I want to change. Just, whatever comes. Also, minimal to no eating, sleeping, or moving.
So at 5am a few Mondays ago, I got out of my tent, stuck two liters of water and some produce into my sleeping bag, and walked down a trail, over a hill, into another meadow, and sat in a little circle of trees. I dropped a gps pin, emailed it to Heather, shut the phone off, and sat down. The next two days was so, so horrible.
For the first 32 hours or so, I thought about everyone I knew who might not like me, and what I had done wrong to make that so. I thought about, say, the half a dozen people who have come into my life who I related to the least, and do not care to invest in with time or talk, and fantasized about the terrible things they might think about me. Stupid things I had said or done in the past were a strong sub-topic of thought. I spent almost the entire first 20 hours reaming myself over my marriage, my divorce, romantic experiences gone awry since and before. Reliving humiliations and mistakes. I couldn’t stop! I thought, wow, Ann, you are supremely preoccupied by what negative things people you don’t like that much think of you.
Which is normal, right? Of course it’s natural to mull over failures, because they’re fascinating. What did I do? What could have changed things? Was it something small? Is it something I can fix next time? I think this is standard, and we all do this. Ok? We all do this.
But wow, I did not expect it to be so hard out there. I thought, I’ve gone on 15 hour drives, camped out alone, spent days on end alone or basically alone, this is going to be relaxing! Jeebus, how far the radio, a text, the making of cereal, a chat in the trailer, go to occupy the mind and distract from this horror show. I thought I would love it, honestly. Meditate all day, think about my goals, forgive myself for stuff, forgive other people, feel newly stoked on all kinds of projects. Nope.
So I knew immediately I could not stop this terrorist thought train, and I was best to just watch. And be mad and sad and annoyed and embarrassed. And if I spent all 50 hours berating myself over things I did and thought as long as 6 years ago, well, that is just the pathetic truth of Ann Raber, dumb bitch.
At some point I became very hungry, and I ate like, a bell pepper. I looked around my tree circle and realized that I had lost track of which direction I came from. Doesn’t matter. Can’t even begin to wonder how to get back now. The tree circle was shadey all day, and I stared at the sun, willing it to move faster and put me out of my misery. I just kept letting the thinking happen. I cuddled up in my sleeping bag and waited to feel scared, alone in the meadow in the dark. I tried not to comfort myself by thinking about Andy and Ema relaxing in the trailer not 100 yards away, in some direction. I prayed kind of desperately, but all I came up with was “praying is so stupid. amen. whatever.” I fell in and out of sleep, maybe. No dreaming, it really didn’t feel any different to be awake or asleep.
Finally the morning came, Tuesday morning, and I was very thirsty. I drank a liter of water, just to see if I could do it all at once, and cried for a while about something nasty I’d said to someone once. At some point I rolled over and saw these little white desert flowers, and the way they were leaning and bobbing in the wind, they kinda looked like people having a conversation at a party, like how flowers do sometimes. So I stared at them and imagined their voices. Then their voices started talking smack about me, saying that I was a loser and a slut. So I reached out and snapped their heads off. I think at that point I started laughing.
By that afternoon, I had started to hallucinate a little bit, probably out of boredom and hunger more than anything. Everything had a weird dark band around it that expanded if I concentrated. So weird. I saw this very distinct whirlwind skip through the meadow for what seemed like 20 minutes, full of grass and dust. I got super hungry again and devoured an apple. I hid from a large black bird. Fasting is completely stupid, I decided. Then I gave up. I pulled out my chapstick, and I read the label. Bronner’s “All One”. All One what? Chapstick? What other functions does it serve? I was desperate to research something. I read every millimeter of the lable, but I think “All One” is just part of the Bronner’s brand name. I read it several more times just to be sure, just to be interacting with something. The chapstick.
So mid-day on Tuesday, after a good lunch of water, a good 33 or so hours in, I started thinking about climbing a little bit. Fantasizing about Hueco this year, remembering fun instances, funny people, stuff like that. Started to feel different. Laid there thinking about climbing until it was dark. I snuggled back into my sleeping bag, thinking about climbing. I was thinking about some problem, I don’t know what or where, maybe something at McKinney, and I was kind of, like, watching what a camera on my forehead would capture while I was climbing. I started staring at my hands matched on something, and — and this was the weird part — and I felt this huge wave of excitement just roll over my entire body, in my toes and my ribs, like I was up off the ground for a second, and my fingers were so tense. I thought, holy moses, I bet I have more of this. So I did that thing in that dream-movie Inception, and I dropped a pin for myself, this particular little image and sentence, thinking if I can call that up when I’m not 44 hours without much sleep or food or human interaction, I bet I can use it.
I was recovered physically by Friday. Andy was showing me a new boulder problem, and I couldn’t do this weird dynamic match move, and I was ok with it. Because I was way tired, and it’s a hard line, tricky move, fine with it being kinda unrealistic for now. But just for fun I remembered the pin and tried it. Crushed. And those horrible feelings and memories and awefulnesses of the recent and father past, I am not lying, I can’t find them. I even tried to make myself think about the worst of it, the most current, the most upsetting, and it was like, nothing. Like a scab that’s all bloddy and gross and bloddy and gross and bloddy and gross everytime you mess with it then one day, it’s a fleck of dry skin. Flick!
i don’t feel like blog-writing June 18, 2011
Flagstaff is really good. Found 2 glorious yoga teachers, a cute coffee shop, and I’m loving tent life. But I don’t feel like saying anything else about it at the moment.
what else have I done?
That’s been about it. Got some projects I’m psyched on, but some may require a return visit in September. ‘nother post to go into that. Still not missing Austin, but I like the idea of a Feb-April in Austin kinda thing, time to to go to all my favorite yoga and pilates classes, do feminine presence class again, go to the temple there, climb bloc party and el camino, ride my bike around, have lots of lunch dates. Trying to check in with that idea once in a while, “do i miss it? nope. wanna go back in september? nope. k good talk.” A wave of reading and crochet psych, a cuteness, and plans for the rest of the summer-fall-winter are holding most of my attention these days.
OH! I have a nephew!
wet westward ho’s January 3, 2011
After climbing in Socorro, which feels like months ago now jeeze!, I stuck with the Kearney family and headed to Pie Town, NM. Prairie and her family get together every year on the 21st to observe a very sad anniversary, but she said it was totally cool if I came along. I wasn’t sure, though, since it sounded like a private family event. Prairie’s boyfriend David was with us, and I decided to just take my cues from him. Their mom, Nita, is a glorious hippie New Mexico lady who grew up on the beach and lives in a huge log house in Pie Town. It’s one of those super hippy family houses that I love, where every wall is crowded with framed snap shots and random postcards, there’s strange, interesting stuff everywhere, all the food is home grown or organic and there are lots of very comfortable sofas. It was fun to sit in her living room and think of how organized and spare Prairie keeps her van-home. My best friend Lily also grew up in a house like Nita’s, and her apartments are always minimalist and hyper-organized. Must be a skipping-the-generation thing.
After a few days in Pie Town, we headed to Las Vegas, and I got to visit Flagstaff for my first time on the way! I sometimes fantasize about moving to Flagstaff, because I have some very lovely friends there and the bouldering and sports action looks like endless, convenient fun. We got coffee with Carrie, which was a huge treat. Carrie is over 7 months pregnant and gorgeous. She gave me this adorable hat…
Vegas itself was a little weird. I had never been there before either. I thought I could get into it, and maybe I might have if the weather had cooperated, or if I’d gone in Vegas, Showgirls party city mode. We spent the first night there boondocked in a WalMart parking lot, which I had also never done before. It was really scary. I did not like it. At all. Give me a creepy rest stop in France where I’m crushed in the back of my rented hatch back Ibiza any night of the year, I don’t like sleeping in WalMart parking lots. Apparently, however, it’s a thing people do on the road. There were a few full on campers parked there also. Still.
We spent the next day at the Kraft boulders in Red Rocks, which were kind of wet but pretty impressive nonetheless. I fell in love with this mega classic v4 called the Pearl. Then I pulled on a jug doing something very easy and it moved, and I was officially freaked. We got on some more potentially delicious problems at the Kraft, but it was super wet and the sandstone there is pretty fragile. I was nervous about falling unexpectedly, or breaking some key hold and having an angry mob run me out of town. The locals at the gear shop had urged not bouldering until things dried out more.
Christmas day I spent at Starbucks in Las Vegas, missing my family and Hueco and the Mastadon and Austin, and being kind of Christmas bummed. I talked to my parents and sisters on the phone for a long time. They were all hysterical over issues with Katie’s wedding dress (the bodice is way to small). Fortunately Katie had brought some nice whiskey home from the UK, and everyone was pleasantly mellowed and watching the Muppet Christmas Carol by noon.
Then I talked to my oldest and dearest friend Jessica, who was also somewhat hysterical on Christmas over a very difficult couple of weeks she’d spent in New Jersey dealing with her extended family and the very sad death of her grandma.
I suggested, since they’re all in Houston, that Jess and her husband Dave go over to my parents house and drink it off with the Raber’s. It was so comforting to catch up with everyone.
After that, I decided to take Prairie, Walker and David out for the Jewish Christmas tradition of Chinese food. We feasted and talked and laughed, and I’d say it was an awesome and memorable Las Vegas Christmas. That night we parked in a random parking lot, which was freaky, and got yelled at late at night by large scary men with flashlights. Feeling rather like a one-woman holy family, no room in the parking lot, I headed back to the pricey Red Rocks campground on my own.
It rained most of the night out there, and I realized climbing was going to be minimal and explodey for a few more days at least. I had a look at the soaked boulders in the morning, and decided me and Vegas were over for now, and that I only had so much of the dirt bagger thing in me. I kind of suspected as much. I like adventures and trips and camping and epic hikes, but I’m not a lifer. I called Lily and asked if I could show up at her place in Los Angeles in a few hours. I said bai bai to the Kearney’s, we made plans to catch up in Malibu for New Years, and I hit the road.
And now I want to move to Venice. Which is an issue for a future post.